February 3rd, 2014
Russian tennis was crumbling even before legendary captain Shamil Tarpischev bailed out last year in favor of new Russian captain Anastasia Myskina. The iron-handed Tarpischev always seemed to pull together the top Russians, as evident by Fed Cup titles in four of five years from 2004-08. But over the last few years, due to payout squabbles and changes in the Russian sports hierarchy, Russian Fed Cup has become a joke. All the top Russian players have again blown off this tie for Mother Russia, and the rookie captain Myskina now has at her disposal Victoria Kan (ranked No. 160), Irina Khromacheva (240), Valeria Solovyeva (247), and Veronika Kudermetova (689) in her first tie as captain. Good luck with that. Australia will post with their top player and former Slam winner Sam Stosur, in addition to Casey Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty, and will ease into the semifinals. This is an “F” on the watchability report card.
January 4th, 2014
Notes: Sam Stosur still injured?…Tough draws for (3) Vesnina against the Puerto Rican riser Puig, and (5) Pennetta against the former No. 1 Venus…Venus on the small-tournament guarantee-cash circuit this year?…Wildcards went to Aussies Casey Dellacqua, Olivia Rogowska and Storm Sanders…Storm Sanders is an awesome sports name, period…Pulling from the tournament were Nadia Petrova, Ashleigh Barty and Stefanie Voegele…Vesnina in last year’s final beat Barthel…Returning former champs in the field are Vesnina (2013), Barthel (2012), and Jie Zheng (2005).
October 13th, 2013
Kerber failed to serve it out at 5-4, 40-0, then Ivanovic let two set points slip away serving at 6-5 — then two more set points at 6-4 in the tiebreak before Kerber won four straight points to secure the title.
October 12th, 2013
Tough starts go to (1) Gasquet vs. either Baghdatis or Evgeny Donskoy, (5) Istomin vs. Russian (WC) Andrey Kuznetsov, and (7) Sousa vs. Stakhovsky…Seeds making their debuts at the event are Gasquet, Sousa and Mannarino…Russians have won the event 14 times since 1990…Last year Seppi beat Thomaz Bellucci in the final…Notable pulls from the event were Nikolay Davydenko (wrist) and Stan Wawrinka…Returning former champs in the field are Seppi (2012) and Tipsarevic (2011).
September 27th, 2013
Eight of the Top 10 take to the court in Beijing, with play starting on Saturday…Six current or former No. 1s in the field…Tough starts go to (3) Radwanska vs. Keys 2nd rd., (14) Ivanovic vs. Pennetta, (2) Azarenka vs. Petkovic (winner to likely face former world No. 2 Kuznetsova), (5) Errani vs. Flipkens, (13) Lisicki vs. V.Williams likely 2nd rd., and (4) Li vs. Hantuchova…Wildcards went to Francesca Schiavone, Venus Williams, and China’s Zhang Shuai and Zheng Jie…Pulling from the event were Martina Hingis (from doubles citing personal reasons) Marion Bartoli (retirement), Jamie Hampton (left ankle), Ekaterina Makarova, Romina Oprandi, Nadia Petrova (left hip), and Maria Sharapova (right shoulder)…The Williams sisters took a doubles wildcard…Former champs in the field are Azarenka (2012), Radwanska (2011), Wozniacki (2010), Kuznetsova (2009,’06), Jankovic (2008), Maria Kirilenko (2005), and Serena Williams (2004)…No player has ever won back-to-back singles titles in Beijing.
September 22nd, 2013
Tough openers for (4) Simon after a bye vs. the winner of Karlovic-Tomic, and (7) Nieminen vs. the Dutch riser Sijsling…Wildcards went to three dudes whose names you can’t pronounce…Pulling from the event were Ivan Dodig, Andy Murray (back surgery), and Tommy Robredo…Gasquet beat Simon in last year’s final…Returning champs in the field are Gasquet (2012) and Simon (2009).
August 28th, 2013
In a match where she simply would not go away, No. 296-ranked 17-year-old American qualifier Vicky Duval, who needed a wildcard to get into the qualifying, on Tuesday night defeated former US Open champ and No. 11 seed Sam Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in Flushing Meadows.
August 11th, 2013
How tough is the Cincinnati draw? Former Slam champ Svetlana Kuznetsova barely got in, while former French Open champ Francesca Schiavone didn’t, and has to play the qualifying.
August 5th, 2013
John Isner’s three-set magic finally dried up in the final of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., where he lost to top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the battle of the big men.
August 4th, 2013
Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, Li Na, Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova, Marion Bartoli, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Roberta Vinci, Maria Kirilenko, Samantha Stosur, Kirsten Flipkens, Sloane Stephens, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic
July 27th, 2013
Notes: Three former No. 1s among the seeds…No Williams sisters but plenty of Top 10ers and floaters…The Top 4 seeds receive opening-round byes…Tough openers for (1) Azarenka after a bye against Pennetta or Schiavone, (4) Vinci after a bye likely against the veteran Mattek-Sands, (7) Ivanovic vs. Cibulkova, (5) Stosur vs. the rolling Lepchenko, and (2) Radwanska after a bye likely vs. the veteran Hantuchova…Wildcards went to American Allie Kiick, France’s Virginie Razzano, and Stosur…Pulling from the event were Marion Bartoli, Kirsten Flipkens, Bojana Jovanovski, Kristina Mladenovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova…Martina Hingis and Hantuchova received a wildcard in doubles…Cibulkova beat Bartoli in the final last year…Returning champions in the field are Cibulkova (2012), Radwanska (2011), and Kuznetsova (2010).
May 6th, 2013
“There were a lot of ups and downs — when you don’t play so much, you kind of lose how to feel that momentum in the match,” Azarenka said. “I was just playing a little bit stupid, I think, and she definitely got loose and nothing to lose.”
May 3rd, 2013
Notes: Insane field with two former No. 1s and an additional Slam champ all unseeded…The Top 3 seeds are current or former No. 1s…Tough opening-round matches are (5) Na vs. Tamira Paszek then the winner of Venus and (WC) Medina Garrigues, (3) Azarenka vs. Pavlyuchenkova, (11) Petrova vs. a qualifier then likely Kuznetsova, (16) Ivanovic vs. a qualifier then likely her Serb countrywoman Jankovic, (9) Stosur vs. the clay-savvy Suarez Navarro, and (2) Sharapova vs. a qualifier then likely Peng…No blue clay this year…Former champs in the field are Serena Williams (2012) and Kvitova (2011).
January 16th, 2013
China’s Zheng Jie pulled off perhaps the largest upset of the day — only perhaps, because it was only a matter of time before Top 10er Sam Stosur got tight in front of her home audience. Jie defeated the No. 9-seeded Stosur 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 after Stosur twice served for the match, and double-faulted on match point for good measure.
December 30th, 2012
Notes: Not the prettiest field for the million-dollar oil-laden event, as the top dogs take the exo cash this week in Abu Dhabi…”Gasquet Back!” says the ATP website!…(8) Andujar opens against the Wimbledon Nadal-killer Rosol, and (3) Kohlschreiber will likely meet Monfils in the second round…Of the seeded players, only Youzhny and Troicki have career winning records in Doha…Davydenko (2010) is the lone returning champ in the field.